October 18, 2003


The Legend of the Social Liberal-Fiscal Conservative: A Lost Tale of Camelot (Brian P. Janiskee, October 15, 2003, Claremont.org)

Conservative luminaries, such as Jon Coupal (President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association), Assemblyman John Campbell, and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, vouched for Arnold's fiscal conservatism and urged fellow conservatives to give him a pass on his social liberalism. After all, so the argument went, we can't make the perfect the enemy of the good. It is better to get half of something than all of nothing. And, as a testament to the rhetorical skill of the prophets of pragmatism, the great majority of conservatives heeded the call and abandoned their fellow traveler Tom McClintock in favor of the Terminator-the social liberal and fiscal conservative.

Like a unicorn prancing in the meadows of Camelot, however, one may have doubts that such a creature actually exists. Where is this elusive and exotic social liberal-fiscal conservative? To hear the talk of some pundits and opinion shapers in conservative circles one gets the impression that politicians are built like automobiles in Detroit. According to many, liberalism and conservatism can be added to the political soul of a politician in various combinations, like air conditioning or an automatic transmission can be added to the basic automobile package. We have been led to believe that politicians can have a variety of ideological accessories that can be added to the main chassis without disrupting the operation of the whole machine.

While this is portrayed as an established fact by almost everyone interested in politics, its veracity is somewhat in doubt. For example, let us take a look at the current Republican lineup in the U.S. Senate and compare their views on social liberalism and fiscal conservatism.

Isn't a "Social Liberal-Fiscal Conservative" basically a libertarian?--someone who doesn't much care what their neighbors do, so long as it doesn't cost taxpayers anything.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 18, 2003 7:26 AM

Another final comment I can embrace, as long as what the neighbors do don't infringe on my rights or those of anyone else.

Posted by: genecis at October 18, 2003 11:23 AM

Mr. Judd;

That's close enough for pundit work.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 18, 2003 8:13 PM

Yeah, kind of like my fist's rights stopping at your nose.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 19, 2003 7:50 AM


No, they stop at baby skulls, right?

Posted by: oj at October 19, 2003 7:59 AM

OJ: Beat me to the punch on that, except to say apparently they do not, in fact, stop there.

Posted by: Chris at October 20, 2003 11:58 AM

No, OJ, the fist's rights apparently do not stop there.

Posted by: Chris at October 20, 2003 11:58 AM